Students at UC-Irvine (No. 32) enjoy great research facilities and access to Nobel Prize-winning science professors.  Bob O'Connor

The 25 Colleges That Add the Most Value

Jul 23, 2014

It's not surprising that elite schools have high graduation rates or that their alumni go on to earn a lot of money. Such schools, after all, generally start with high-achieving (and well-to-do) students who have the talent and resources to thrive in almost any environment. So we set out to determine which schools actually add the most value, taking into account the economic and academic profiles of the incoming students and, in the case of earnings, the mix of majors at each school.

The following colleges, in other words, turn out graduates who exceed the averages for their peer groups by the widest margin. The factors considered included the percentage of students who complete college and how much alumni typically earn.

1. Mount St. Mary's CollegeLos Angeles, Calif.12223%$13,930
2. University of California-IrvineIrvine, Calif.3223%9,400
3. Art Center College of DesignPasadena, Calif.17719%11,990
4. Maine Maritime AcademyCastine, Maine1218%21,600
4. Holy Family UniversityPhiladelphia, Pa.6816%12,150
6. Manhattan CollegeRiverdale, N.Y.4014%19,700
7. University of Washington-BothellBothell, Wash.3711%12,260
8. La Salle UniversityPhiladelphia, Pa.16618%10,270
9. Rutgers University-NewarkNewark, N.J.1077%10,550
9. California State University-NorthridgeNorthridge, Calif.1898%8,650
11. Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley, Pa.20825%4,410
12. California State University-San BernadinoSan Bernadino, Calif.1897%9,110
13. University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago, Ill.1014%8,730
14. College of Our Lady of the ElmsChicopee, Mass.10723%5,000
15. Monmouth CollegeMonmouth, Ill.25718%3,500
15. Woodbury UniversityBurbank, Calif.47114%2,860
17. Saint Vincent CollegeLatrobe, Pa.8216%3,830
18. University of California-Los AngelesLos Angeles, Calif.3114%3,510
19. Doane College-CreteCrete, Neb.618%10,150
20. San Diego State UniversitySan Diego, Calif.1509%3,900
21. Fairfield UniversityFairfield, Conn.14712%8,060
21. Merrimack CollegeNorth Andover, Mass.2359%10,320
23. Washington State UniversityPullman, Wash.13812%6,420
23. Illinois State UniversityNormal, Ill.17714%2,170
25. Bradley UniversityPeoria, Ill.8612%7,860
25. University of California-Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara, Calif.959%4,350
NOTES: The graduation rate outperformance represents the percentage by which the school's graduation rate exceeds the average for schools with student bodies from similar socioeconomic and academic backgrounds; the earnings outperformance represents how much more the average graduate earns than would be predicted (measured by the percentage of Pell Grant recipients and average standardized test scores and, for earnings, the mix of majors at the school). Also considered: student-loan default rates. SOURCES: IPEDS, Peterson’s, Payscale.com, MONEY/College Measures calculations
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